Facing the fax: German bureaucracy museum opens in Berlin

Facing the fax: German bureaucracy museum opens in Berlin

Following the Disgusting Food Museum and Museum for Bizarre Objects, another curious day out has been added to Berlin’s list of attractions. The new Bureaucracy Museum is free, but visitors should read the fine print before a visit.

Temporary bureaucracy museum opens in Berlin

So dedicated is Germany to the art of “Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren”, envelope lickin’, Brief schicken and Termin booking, that bureaucracy has been granted its very own museum in the capital. 

In the modest 350 square metre space in Berlin-Mitte, visitors can now walk through an arboreal tunnel designed to represent the 52 trees required to supply Germany’s administrative offices with paper every day.

While 82 percent of German companies were still using fax machines in 2023, the traffic-light coalition government has just begun a new project to reduce paper bureaucracy for businesses, residents and citizens with the new Bürokratieentlastungsgesetz IV (Bureaucracy Relief Law IV).

Further into the bowels of the museum, visitors can pick up watches using a claw machine to “reclaim their lost time from administrations” and finally, enter the “Daddy Staat” room to chain themselves to a Paragraphenzeichen, “§” symbol which is used when referencing paragraphs of the German legal code. 

Berlin Bureaucracy Museum opened by INSM lobbyists

Anyone interested in washing their proverbial hands of the law which underpins German democracy shouldn’t dilly-dally, since the pop-up museum is only open until June 25. Visitors don’t have to pay entry but must register themselves in advance.

Berliners can thank the Initiative Neue Soziale Marktwirtschaft (New Social Free Market Initiative) for their Gratis visit. The think-tank and lobby group have invested 50.000 euros of real money to fund the museum of deeply literal metaphors.

Since it was founded by the employers’ organisation Gesamtmetall in 2002, INSM has become infamous for its “opaque PR work” according to taz, and ongoing campaigns for privatisation, tax breaks and cuts to the German social security system.

The most curious example involved a German soap opera. In 2005, documents which listed clients of the German public broadcaster ARD were made public, revealing that the lobby company had paid 58.670 euros to write dialogue and scenes on the themes of “economy, small government and taxes” into long-running soap, Marienhof.

More recent examples include a “There is no Wirtschaft B” campaign, a poke at the Letzte Generation’s pressure on the Ampel government to implement a more urgent climate policy, and a 2019 report which argued that limiting global warming to two degrees celsius was enough to avoid climate collapse.

According to climate scientists at Pennsylvania State University, 1,5 degrees of warming would destroy at least 70 percent of coral reefs, but at two degrees more than 99 percent would be lost. Crucially, two degrees of warming increases the risk of climate tipping points, which trigger an irreversible cycle of catastrophic climate events. 

A 2023 report by Prognos and GWS and Germany's Institute for Ecological Economic Research, estimates that climate change could cost the German economy up to 900 billion euros before 2050.

Thumb image credit: Official /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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